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How to Apply for a China Visa — a Step-by-Step Guide

Written by CindyUpdated Mar. 7, 2024
Good news for travelers!

From December 1st, 2023 to November 30th, 2024, visitors from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, and Malaysia can stay in China for up to 15 days without a visa for travel, business, transit, or visiting friends and family.

Starting March 14th, travelers from Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland can also enjoy this visa-free entry.

How to Apply for a China Visa

Planning to visit China, but don't know how to apply for a China visa? We're breaking it down for you with our step by step guide, follow the steps and get your China visa efficiently.

The visa information we provide is for reference only. We are a travel agency. If you book a trip with us, we can provide you with the invitation letter when applying for a tourist visa.

1. Find out if you need a visa

The first thing is to check whether you need a visa or not. You usually need to apply for a Chinese visa unless you meet one of China's visa-free policies. 72- and 144-hour visa-free transit offer great convenience if you have a layover in China.

2. Find out which visa you need.

There are many types of China visa. Choose a visa type that applies to your situation. If you are planning to go on a vacation in China, apply for a Tourist Visa (L Visa).

3. Prepare the required documents.

The following list of documents are required for any China visa application:

  • A valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter China.
  • A complete visa application form (The visa application form can be downloaded from the Chinese embassy website or from our website. You complete it by computer, print and sign it. In some countries such as UK you should complete an online form. On the form, you might find an item "Serial number of invitation letter of the authorized organization", you may skip this item if you don't have an invitation letter, or the invitation letter is not of this type.)
  • A recent passport-type photograph (head and shoulders only, front view, with a white background, approximately 48mmx33mm)

Along with the aforementioned generally required documents, several additional documents are required depending upon the type of China visa applied for.

For instance, if you are applying for a tourist L visa, you need to prepare an air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter issued by a Chinese travel agency. (An invitation letter could be provided by us without extra charge if a China tour of 3 days or more is booked.)

An invitation letter can replace the air ticket and hotel booking if you are planning to stay with friends or family who live in China and can't provide the hotel confirmation, or if your travel is being organized by a travel agency (or other duly authorized organization) in China. We can provide you with the invitation letter if you book a tour with us.

4. Submit the application.

You may submit the application to the Visa Office at Chinese embassies or consulates, or China Visa Application Service Centers (also called CVASC) if they are operating in your country.

Starting from 2018, visa applicants from more and more countries (including the U.S., the UK, and Canada) have to make their visa application in person and have their fingerprints collected.

The regular service processing time is 4 days, and the rushed service takes about 1 day. The latter is only available in extreme emergencies pending a consular officer's approval.

5. Pay the fee and collect your visa.

Go to the place where you apply for China visa, pay the fee and collect your visa.

The fees vary enormously depending on your nationality and number of entries. Here we listed China visa price for some countries for your reference. It may change based on the updated policies.

Nationality Number of Entries Regular Application
US Citizens Single Entry
Double Entries
Multiple Entries for 6 Months
Multiple Entries for 1 Year & above
USD 185
UK Citizens EUR 151
Canada Citizens CAD 100
Australian Citizens AUD 60-180

The fees shown in the table are only for the cost of visa. If you apply through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center, the service fee and tax are required.

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When to Apply for a Visa

China Visa

It is important to get your visa early, but not too early because it is only valid for 90/180 days for single/double-entry visas from the issue date.

It is usually recommended that you apply for the visa one or two months before the intended travel.

Apply for Special Permits, If Necessary.

If you are planning on traveling to the Tibet Autonomous Region, you will need to get a Tibet Travel Permit from a Chinese travel agency. As a travel agency based in China for more than 20 years, we can help you apply for the Tibet Travel Permit.

Check the most popular Tibet tours.

Apply for China Visa in Hong Kong

If you are already in Hong Kong and want to visit Chinese mainland, it is possible to get a China visa in Hong Kong. Read our step-by-step guide.

Tailor-Making a Private China Tour

China Highlights is your China tour tailor-making expert. See the recommended tours below for inspiration or check out our ideas and suggestion on How to Plan Your China Tour.

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